Beach House – 7 – Album Review by Cathy Brown
7 is Beach House’s seventh album and it sees duo Victoria LeGrand and Alex Scally explore new territory without sacrificing the quintessential dream pop atmospherics which have guided their musical career for the last 13 years.
Although not straying far from their usual dreamy soundscapes, 7 feels like a looser, livelier affair than their previous work – their signature sound shot through with a perceptible tougher thrust thanks to the introduction of live drums.
Album opener ‘Dark Spring’ sets the tone with a driving drum solo that merges into the woozy synth and guitar sound we’ve come to expect, albeit with an unsettling sense of urgency. ‘Lemon Glow’ the first single from the album, opens as a paean to human connections but is given a rhythmic, jarring tension that cuts through the swooning pop. The love song ‘Dive’ sticks close to the Beach House formula, but the drums again speak to a sharpening of the edges around the soft dream-like heart of their songs.
‘Woo’ is a gorgeously layered song, highlighting Legrand’s wistful vocal melodies, a feeling maintained on the hymn-like ‘L’Inconnue’, both of which will play well with fans of the classic Beach House sound.
According to LeGrand and Scally, the key theme of 7 is ‘the roles, pressures and conditions that our society places on women, past and present.’ – a timely feeling perfectly captured on songs like ‘Drunk in LA’, ‘Last Ride’ and in particular on ‘Girl of the Year’. Here the Julee Cruise-like ambience frames LeGrand’s haunting lyrics to perfection; ‘You slide our on Sunset/ Head west on Marest/ On your own, on your own/ Get dressed to undress/ Depress to impress/ All night long, all night long’ she sings.
7 is subtly co-produced by Sonic Boom, introducing some stylistic alterations to the slow-burning buzz of synthesizer and textured guitar. Rather than coasting on what they do best, LeGrand and Scally have taken a more experimental approach on 7, embracing a friction and a playfulness within their music without forsaking their lush cinematic soundtrack.
It’s a subtle step forward that signals Beach House’s ambition to update their sound without renouncing the graceful sense of transcendence at the heart of their music.
Track List –
1. Dark Spring 03:24
2. Pay No Mind 03:25
3. Lemon Glow 04:05
4. L’Inconnue 04:25
5. Drunk In LA 03:59
6. Dive 04:25
7. Black Car 04:11
8. Lose Your Smile 04:09
9. Woo 04:15
10. Girl Of The Year 03:51
11. Last Ride 07:00